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Car Bomb Explodes Outside US Base in Iraq - 2003-12-11

U.S. military officials in Iraq say one soldier was killed and 14 wounded in a suicide bombing outside an army base in the town of Ramadi, west of Baghdad. They also say three Iraqi men driving the vehicle are believed to have been killed.

A senior military official told reporters it appeared to be a suicide attack at the so-called Champion base near the town of Ramadi, about 100 kilometers west of Baghdad.

The military says the car bomb exploded at the base's main gate Thursday afternoon, and the three men in the vehicle appear to have been killed. The base is the headquarters of the Army's 82nd Airborne Division, which controls western Iraq.

In Baghdad, the senior military official said a hand-grenade attack late Wednesday wounded two U.S. soldiers and two journalists working for Time magazine. The two men were on patrol with U.S. troops when someone tossed a grenade into their Humvee armored vehicle. One of the journalists was only lightly wounded, but the other is reported to be very seriously injured.

In the northern city of Mosul, U.S. troops arrested three men they believe to be the leaders of several cells that have been attacking U.S. troops and other targets. They found a major weapons cache, which a local commander said was large enough to carry out 50 attacks.

In another raid in Mosul, the senior military official says troops arrested a man wanted by the FBI, but he was not able to give any more details, including the man's name or why he was wanted. In the same operation, the troops found a large amount of cash, including $30,000 and 50 million new Iraqi dinars, which are worth about $25,000.

South of Baghdad, meanwhile, troops have arrested 41 people in the town of Latifiyeh, including several people suspected of involvement in the killings of seven Spanish operatives last month. The senior military spokesman says those captured include a cell leader, an intelligence officer and the actual attackers who ambushed the Spaniards' convoy.

Another senior official from the Coalition Provisional Authority confirmed reports that nearly half of the members of the new Iraqi army's first battalion have resigned already. The Iraqi army just recently began patrolling with the U.S. Fourth Infantry Division, and the second battalion is still in training.

The coalition spokesman said 300 of the first battalion's 700 soldiers have quit. He said their main complaint appears to be related to their salaries. New recruits are paid about $50 a month, and privates about $60. The spokesman says those salaries are compatible with those paid to other Iraqi security forces, and roughly 25 times more than soldiers were paid under Saddam Hussein.

He says there have been no defections so far from the Iraqi army second battalion. And he said the coalition is reviewing the salaries of all Iraqi security forces to determine if they need to be raised.